Why exactly is that, every time we put a government official in charge of some big, less-than-well-defined task, he or she becomes a czar? (Car czar, drug czar, energy czar, cybersecurity czar, there must be more.) I get why Führer and duce aren’t gonna work. But there are lots of other options: emperor, king, queen, prince, archduke, chancellor, sultan, viceroy, maharajah, to name just a few. Yet for some reason we keep falling back on the Slavic derivation of Caesar, and we always spell it czar, not tsar.
Now this isn’t quite as lame as the practice of naming every Washington scandal by putting -gate at the end of it. But it is odd, and strikes me as vaguely un-American. We can do better.
Update: My office-neighbor Jim Poniewozik suggests “auto-crat.”